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Philadelphia

‘No Contract, No Matisse’: Philadelphia Museum Of Art Workers Win Contract

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -  After a 19-day strike, members of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) union voted overwhelmingly in October to approve their first contract. Daily pickets had cut into the museum’s attendance and impacted preparation for an anticipated exhibit on the works of French painter Henri Matisse. After two years of stalled negotiations, the 180 workers of AFSCME Local 397 forced the museum’s hand and attracted public support that placed the museum’s well-crafted reputation at risk. The agreement includes a 14 percent raise over three years, an extra $500 for every five years of employment, a larger employer contribution to health care coverage, and, for the first time, four weeks of paid parental leave.

Temple Grad Students Vote To Strike, And Temple’s Bosses Are Afraid

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The surge of strike energy has reached Philadelphia. Just a few weeks after Philly’s art museum workers struck and won, this past Friday Temple University’s graduate students voted overwhelmingly to strike — by a margin of 99 percent. Contribute to their strike fund here TUGSA — Temple University Graduate Student Association — represents about 750 Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Research Assistants (RAs) across the campus. They’ve been negotiating for 10 months, and working without a contract since February. They’ve been stonewalled by Temple’s bosses. TUGSA is demanding badly needed changes to their pay and working conditions. Looking at Temple’s own math on its new anti-union website, grad student workers and RAs make just $20,000 a year in a city where average rent is around $1,900 a month.

Penn Students Storm Franklin Field For Climate And Community Justice

Penn’s band was wrapping up its halftime show, and moments before the third quarter was set to begin, protesters rushed the field, holding three banners: “Save The UC Townhomes” “Divest from Fossil Fuels” “PAY PILOTs” The protesters occupied the center of the field while security guards swarmed around them. At the top of the stadium, another group of students held a banner where Yale fans sat that asked: “Which side are you on?” Approximately 75 student protesters, members of the Fossil Free Penn organization, planned the action after an ongoing fight with Penn’s administration over climate issues and community justice. Penn did not comment on the protest, but the students believe the university knew about it beforehand.

Philadelphia Museum Of Art And Union Agree To Contract After 19-Day Strike

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the PMA Union, an affiliate of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 47, reached a three-year agreement, union leaders and PMA museum director Sasha Suda announced Friday. The PMA’s board of trustees and the union’s executive committee approved the deal’s terms on Friday. The union’s 180-worker membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of the contract on Sunday. The vote was 99 percent in favor. “I feel good about the terms. They met everything that we asked for,” Adam Rizzo, PMA union president, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The museum caved on every single issue that we were fighting for. We won everything we asked for,” Rizzo added.

Housing Activists Fight Gentrification In West Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On Sept. 29, just minutes into freshman convocation, Liz Magill’s first major speech as University of Pennsylvania president was disrupted by about 100 protesters. The protesters, including students, chanted “Save UC Townhomes” and “stop Penn-trification.” After sitting briefly, Magill attempted to continue, making the disrespectful suggestion to the protesters, among whom were local residents facing eviction, that “Democracy cannot work unless people can live together, learn from one another and, paradoxically, disagree.” Amid continuous chants, Magill was unable to finish her remarks. The movement that disrupted this event has become one of the most dynamic forces in Philadelphia in recent months.

Support Philadelphia Museum Of Art strike

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Since Sept. 26, almost 200 workers have been on strike — not reporting for work in person or virtually — at one of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S. with over 240,000 works of art from around the world. Members of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 397, affiliated with AFSCME District Council 47, voted for union representation in a landslide, 89% “yes” vote in August 2020. Since then, the PMA Board of Trustees and executive management have refused to come to an agreement with the PMA Union. After over two years of fruitless talks, after filing a lengthy Unfair Labor Practice charge against museum management, after a strike authorization vote of 99% and after holding a one-day warning strike Sept. 16, workers finally walked off the job Sept. 26.

Home Depot Workers Form Independent Union

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - On September 19, workers filed a petition to organize a union among 276 workers at a Home Depot in northeast Philadelphia. If successful, the independent union would be the first at the home repair chain, the fifth-largest private employer in the U.S with 500,000 employees. Vince Quiles, who’s worked at the store for five years, says the union effort gathered over 100 signatures for an election in just five weeks. At the beginning of the pandemic, Quiles was promoted to supervisor in the plumbing department. Plumbing is the highest-volume section of the store, with around 6,000 sales per day, but the company did little to prepare him. “No training, no staff,” says Quiles. “They said, ‘You’re good with people, go figure it out.’”

Philadelphia Museum of Art Workers Hold 1-Day Strike for Better Wages, Benefits

Unionized workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art began a one-day "unfair practices" strike Friday morning amid ongoing negotiations with museum leadership on their first collective bargaining agreement. The decision comes less than three weeks after AFSCME Local 397 members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike and filed eight unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that museum management engaged in union-busting practices during contract negotiations.

Housing Activists Crash Developers’ Party

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Residents of the University City Townhomes and their supporters, determined to save their homes from destruction by property developers, have taken their fight directly to the movers and shakers behind most gentrification in Philadelphia. Over 100 residents and supporters converged on the University of Pennsylvania convocation for the incoming class of 2026, Aug. 29, shouting down President Liz Magill with chants of “Housing is a human right” and “Stop Penntrification.” Protesters then used the occasion to educate students about UPenn’s racist history in the destruction of a major Black Philadelphia neighborhood.

Peace Literacy: Education For Life

Philadelphia is awash in guns: More people were shot there in 2022, hundreds fatally, than in larger cities including New York and Los Angeles.  In this “country’s poorest big city,” most shootings take place in neighborhoods shattered by multiple forms of racial discrimination and endemic poverty. The market in legal gun sales is also booming in Philadelphia, the culture of fear driving citizens to carry guns for safety.  Further complicating solutions is the disagreement between the progressive district attorney and the chief of police over models of crime enforcement in the city On the other side of our country, a miraculous alternative to the seeming nihilism of West and North Philadelphia neighborhoods breeds hope.

Residents Refuse To Be Forced From Homes Won Through Past Struggle

Forty years ago, residents of Philadelphia won a subsidized housing community in the area known as Black Bottom after fighting the discrimination and displacement being used to clear the way for University City. Now the city is allowing that community, 72 residences called University City Townhomes (UCT), to be sold for gentrification. Clearing the FOG spoke with Rasheda Alexander, a resident of UCT, and Sterling Johnson of Philadelphia Housing Action about their efforts to protect UCT and stop the wave of evictions and displacement that primarily target low income black and brown people. Their organizing and actions have not only been effective in putting pressure on city officials but have also brought the community together and inspired others to stand up for their rights. See SaveTheUCTownhomes.com for more information.

Philly Maintenance Workers, School Bus Drivers Vote To Authorize A Strike

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The union representing 2,000 Philadelphia school bus drivers and maintenance workers authorized a strike Saturday if they don’t have a new contract by the end of the month. Hundreds of representatives of 32BJ SEIU District 1201 took to North Broad Street, chanting and clapping, after members voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary. The vote does not mean a strike will definitely happen, though — union leaders will make that call. “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” the union members said. 32BJ also represents the mechanics, bus attendants, building cleaners and engineers, and trades workers who support Philadelphia’s 215 schools and 114,000 students. Union officials say the two sides are split on matters of pay, safety, and training. Negotiations resume Tuesday.

The City Has Failed University City Townhome Residents

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Monday morning’s abrupt dismantling  of the protest encampment outside of West Philly’s University City Townhomes served as another reminder that Black lives still don’t matter. For the past year, residents from the affordable housing complex near the University of Pennsylvania have been fighting back against IBID Associates, who are putting the property up for sale. They have made their demands known  — halting the sale and demolition of the homes, granting residents a two-year extension, a $500,000 financial compensation for each displaced family, and more. But for the predominately Black and brown families who’ve lived there for years, this means being displaced right into one of the most expensive housing markets in generations. While IBID is distributing housing vouchers to residents, many are claiming that the city’s ongoing gentrification crisis has made it harder for them to secure a decent alternative place to live.

Philadelphia Unions: ‘Housing Is A Human Right!’

For months, 70 Black and Brown families have organized resistance to their threatened eviction by the Altman Company in Philadelphia. When supporters and residents set up a protest tent city on July 9, Altman got a judge to order what he called “trespassers” off his “private property.” The area labor movement galvanized with a strong response, pointing out that workers have little interest in cooperating with Altman to carry out the evictions. The Philadelphia Workers Solidarity Network and the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition first put out a petition with a plea to workers and union members: “Don’t cross our picket line,” if the city attempts to tear down the encampment. (tinyurl.com/2p9fhx5y) Over 400 workers, labor activists, union locals and housing activists have signed on.

Residents Resist Millionaire Developers

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Darlene Foreman, a 60-year-old Black woman and one of the UC Townhomes tenant representatives, told the assembled press on July 11: “This is a fight for the Townhomes but not only the Townhomes.” It’s for people “all over the country who are facing displacement.” Behind her were about 50 other residents and supporters holding signs or cell phones as she continued: “I will not be displaced. . . . Me, the residents here and people all over the country are sick of it. So, if this fight takes today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, the year after that, then we’re gonna be out here fighting!” In the background were about 15 tents, which were put up on the property’s green lawn after a “Protect the Block Party” July 9. Residents and housing activist supporters are taking turns staying overnight as part of the “We ain’t going nowhere” campaign, joining in the residents’ resistance.
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